The final day. I’d bought my tickets for The War on Drugs/Flaming Lips closing show a few weeks before arriving in Iceland because of two reasons: 1) I am paranoid, and 2) I did not want to wake up early like my fellow Airwaves compatriots on the Friday morning to stand in line at Harpa for four hours to show my wristband in exchange for 1 of 2200 tickets. The $80 was worth the extra three hours of stress-less sleep. I was over-tired, hungover, and it was my last full day in Iceland so I shouldn’t be spending it nursing said hangover, right? Fortunately, Iceland is one of those places that just lets me be. I was quite happy to spend most of the day leading up to the closing show doing nothing but walk up and down Laugavegur once, and stopping into Eymundsson for a coffee and quick show. The evening’s performance, as it would turn out, would be well-worth a day of nothing.
Today was THE day. The day so crazy that a few months back, when I saw the announcement that the Iceland Airwaves schedule had been announced and looked at the Saturday, I screamed at my computer in frustration. When it comes to music, sacrifice has always been a difficult concept, and having never been to a music festival of this scale before, I had naive beliefs that I wouldn’t have to make any tough choices. My schedule could have gone a million different ways. And almost a week later, I still look back and think of how I might have done things differently, even though the way I did do things was, nonetheless, an amazingly perfect evening.
The weekend was here, and somehow the nights were going to get later (Young Grandma over here already thinks nights that end at 1:00AM are far too late). Airwaves was halfway over, but the shows I was most excited for were nearly here. I was meeting all kinds of people, and living in a permanent state of excitement and anticipation about what great show I was going to see or discover next. This day was a little more planned out than Day 2, as I had a couple specific bands I needed to see, but there was still room for flexibility and checking out some bands I’d never heard of before.
My second day of Airwaves was the day I had least planned out. On my airplane ride over, I had little else to do but use the super handy Airwaves app to figure out which off-venue shows to see (best festival app I have ever seen, by the way), and how I could see as many bands as possible, especially those with schedule conflicts. But for my festival Thursday, the only real must-see for me was For A Minor Reflection at Harpa Norduljós, which was happening fairly early in the night at 9 PM. I wanted to leave at least one day open for musical discovery, and not just see bands I’d heard of but only mildly liked, so this was the day to do that.
With no idea what to expect or how I should plan out my schedule, I survived my first day of Iceland Airwaves. And holy shit – my first day set some amazingly high expectations of what to expect over the next four days.
I only have one more sleep until I get on a plane to return to Iceland for nine days. I will be attending the Iceland Airwaves music festival, with a few days beforehand to potentially site-see, reunite with friends and family, or just simply find a quiet cafe in inspirational Reykjavik and write. The first time I was preparing to go to Iceland, back in March 2014, things were very different. It was my first time visiting my country of origin, for one. It was the longest trip I had ever spent travelling completely solo. A portion of the trip was dedicated to attending the Iceland Writers Retreat, where I was surrounded by fellow writers and some of my favourite authors. And, my departure preparations were shaped by another life event that I’ve kept absent from social media and this blog – my grandfather died three days before my plane left the ground.
I know 5 people from various walks of life who are all in Iceland right now – if you know anything about me or have read anything on this blog, you know that Iceland is where I’d rather be right now too.
A lot of places have their “one thing,” the must-do for tourists even if they’re only there for a short amount of time.
I think sometimes we forget that there is more to us than the little bubble we confine ourselves to on a regular basis.
I wrote a piece for the Icelandic travel blog “Stuck in Iceland” about some wise life advice I received in a dimly lit bar in Reykjavik. Check it out! Drink Write Love: Discovering Iceland’s Creative Culture